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As school year ends, pope tells students: Don’t fear goodbyes, unknown


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Life is a long series of hellos and goodbyes, so don’t be afraid to let go of the past; remember old friends, but keep moving and be open to the new, Pope Francis told students as the school year was coming to an end.

“We have to learn to see life by seeing the horizons,” not the walls that can make people afraid because they don’t know what is on the other side, he told thousands of adolescents during a 45-minute encounter at the Vatican June 2. The middle-schoolers were part of Communion and Liberation’s “The Knights of the Grail” educational initiative.

Pope Francis poses for a selfie as he arrives to lead a special audience for members of a middle school group June 2 at the Vatican. The middle-schoolers were part of Communion and Liberation's "The Knights of the Grail" educational initiative. (CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis poses for a selfie as he arrives to lead a special audience for members of a middle school group June 2 at the Vatican. The middle-schoolers were part of Communion and Liberation’s “The Knights of the Grail” educational initiative. (CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)

In the informal Q-and-A, a teen named Marta told the pope how scared she was to be leaving middle school and most of her best friends as they head on to high school next year. “Why do I have to change everything? Why does growing up make me so afraid?” she asked him.

“Life is a constant ‘Good morning’ and ‘Farewell,’” he said, with the goodbyes sometimes being for forever.

“You grow by encountering and by taking your leave,” he said. “If you don’t learn to say goodbye well, you will never learn how to encounter new people.”

This moment of change in life is “a challenge,” he said, but “in life we have to get used to this journey of leaving something behind and encountering something new.”

Noting that Marta had used the word “afraid” a number of times in her question, the pope said the risk that comes with the challenge is that fear will render a person immobile, “too serene” and unable to grow.

Those who give up, settle down and say, “Enough,” close off the horizons that are out there waiting for them and do not grow.

“Look at that wall? What’s behind it?” he asked the girl. “I don’t know,” she said.

“But if you go outside, to the countryside, what do you see?” he asked. “I see everything,” she replied.

“Everything. You see the horizon,” the pope said. “We have to learn to see life by looking at the horizons” that are always open, always lying ahead, by meeting new people and having new experiences.

Instead of framing the future with terms like “fear” or “afraid,” he added, try “using the word ‘a challenge’ more” and remembering, “I will win this challenge or I will let this challenge defeat me.”

“Look at the wall and think about the horizon that lies in the countryside,” he said. The more a person journeys toward the horizon, the farther, longer and wider that horizon becomes.

Remember to call and visit old friends, he said, “but live and journey with the new ones.”

When asked how kids their age could change the world when it has so many problems, the pope told them they have to begin with the people and situations in their daily lives.

Think of what happens to a person’s hand when sharing a piece of candy, for example: It’s open and moves toward the other person, the pope said. Now think of what happens when a person wants to keep that candy for himself or herself: The hand closes up tight and moves away from the other.

One’s heart has to be like the hand that is responding in a positive, generous way, not the negative, self-centered approach, he said.

“You can begin to change the world with an open heart,” the pope said, and by listening to others, welcoming others and sharing things.

Pray for everyone, including one’s enemies and “those who make you suffer,” he said, “Never return evil with evil.”

Don’t bad-mouth, insult or wish bad things would happen to others, he said. “That’s how you can change the world. There is no magic wand, but there are little things we can learn to do every day.”

Pope Francis suggested that the kids meet up to openly discuss the right and the wrong ways to respond to the many difficulties or choices that have to make each day.

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Don’t be overly harsh on youth; they have much to give, pope says



Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY  — Young people often are judged too easily, even though with their limitations they are still a much needed and valuable part of the world, Pope Francis said.

Do not forget how God often chose the smallest, because proclaiming the Gospel “is not based on the greatness of human strength, but rather on the willingness to let oneself be guided by the gift of the Spirit,” he said June 1. Read more »

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Christians share hope, not ‘vinegar of bitterness,’ pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians are called to be “sowers of hope,” consoling and defending the poor and anyone in need, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis greets artists from Cirque du Soleil during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 31. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets artists from Cirque du Soleil during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 31. (CNS/Paul Haring)

As Christians prepared to celebrate Pentecost June 4, Pope Francis used his weekly general audience May 31 to speak about the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen the hope of believers and to send them forth to instill hope in others.

Sowing bitterness or perplexity, he said, “isn’t Christian and if you do this, you aren’t Christian. Sow hope. Spread the oil of hope, diffuse the perfume of hope and not the vinegar of bitterness and hopelessness.”

In his Letter to the Romans (15:13), St. Paul prays, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Having an abundance of hope, Pope Francis said, means not only hoping that when life is over one will be with God. It also means having the strength today to continue hoping “even when there is less human reason for hoping.”

“Hope truly is like a sail,” the pope said. “It gathers the wind of the Spirit and transforms it into a driving force that pushes the boat out to sea or to the shore, depending on circumstances.”

“It pushes us to go forward, always forward,” he said. The Holy Spirit “makes us feel like pilgrims and strangers and does not allow us to sit back and become a sedentary people.”

Jesus promised his disciples the Holy Spirit as a “paraclete,” a provider of consolation and a defense, the pope said, and those who have been blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in turn called to console and defend others.

“Console and defend like the Holy Spirit does for each of us who are here in the square. Console and defend,” he said. “We must be the same for the neediest, the discarded, those who need it most, those who suffer most. Console and defend.”

Saying, “This seems strange, but it’s true,” Pope Francis noted how St. Paul also taught that the Holy Spirit gives hope to all of creation, which is “groaning in labor pains” but expectant in hope. “This pushes us to respect creation: one cannot sully a painting without offending the artist who created it.”

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Pope, Trudeau discuss reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous people


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he asked Pope Francis to help Canadians “move forward on a real reconciliation” with the country’s indigenous people “by issuing an apology” on behalf of the Catholic Church for its role in harming their communities.

Pope Francis meets Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a private audience at the Vatican May 29. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis meets Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a private audience at the Vatican May 29. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

The prime minister spoke to a handful of reporters in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park May 29 after having had a 36-minute private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

“He reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world, fighting for them,” the prime minister said, adding the pope said that “he looked forward to working with me and with the Canadian bishops to figure out a path forward together.”

The 2015 report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which focused on past treatment of the indigenous communities and concrete steps for a future of greater inclusion, included a recommendation that the pope come to Canada to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church for its participation in the residential schools for indigenous children.

While the idea behind the schools was to promote the greater integration of indigenous communities into modern Canadian life, the schools, many run by Catholic religious orders, led to a situation in which many children were torn from their families, lost their native language and cultures and often suffered abuse.

Trudeau told reporters he invited the pope to go to Canada “in the coming years,” but added no further details about such a trip.

The Vatican meeting, Trudeau said, was an opportunity to have “a deeply personal and wide-ranging, thoughtful conversation with the leader of my own faith.”

For its part, the Vatican issued a statement saying that the prime minister’s meetings with the pope and with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, included “the themes of integration and reconciliation, as well as religious freedom and current ethical issues.”

Trudeau, who is Catholic, and the bishops of Canada work closely on fighting climate change and on welcoming and assisting refugees, especially from Syria. However, the bishops have sharp differences with the prime minister over a variety of issues related to the sanctity of human life and the family.

In early March Trudeau’s government announced it would “invest” $650 million (US$483 million) over three years to provide abortion and other services in the developing world. The president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, Ontario, reacted by calling the policy “a reprehensible example of Western cultural imperialism.”

The bishops also have been working diligently to promote palliative care and a recognition of the sacredness of life of those who are dying as well as the right of medical personnel to conscientiously object to participating in practices they oppose on religious grounds. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2015 that people who are “grievously and irremediably ill” have a right to medical assistance in dying.

After the closed-door meeting, Trudeau introduced his wife, Sophie Gregoire, and his delegation to the pope before exchanging gifts with him.

Trudeau gave the pope an edition of the six-volume “Relations des Jesuites de la Nouvelle-France,” a collection of 17th-century reports from Jesuit missionaries in what is now Canada. Trudeau told the Jesuit pope the volumes are an “essential tool for historians” in understanding the early history of the country. He also gave the pope framed samples of a Jesuit’s dictionary of Montagnais Innu, the language of an indigenous community in Canada.

Pope Francis, appreciating the gift, told the prime minister, “it was a custom of the Jesuits” to compile such dictionaries when they began missions in new lands.

The pope gave Trudeau the gold medallion minted for the fourth year of his pontificate (2016-17), which features an “embrace” as “a symbol of forgiveness, joy and mutual acceptance,” according to the Vatican’s description. It also refers to the passage from Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Pope Francis is aware of the current situation in Canada and the concerns of the bishops on all the issues mentioned by Trudeau to the press and in the Vatican communique. From March to May Pope Francis spent hours listening to the bishops, who made their ad limina visits to the Vatican in four groups.

While all the bishops of Canada have not formally invited the pope to Canada, during the visits several of the groups explained the situation of Canada’s indigenous peoples, the history of the residential schools and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Some of the bishops said they were told Pope Francis would consider a trip in 2018 or 2019. A final decision would require input from the whole Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in dialogue with the Vatican.

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In Genoa, pope condemns ‘speculation economy’ and refugee bans



Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Condemning an economy that encourages speculation more than entrepreneurship, warning priests and religious that they share responsibility for the vocations crisis and telling young people they are right to be puzzled by nations that close their doors to people fleeing persecution, Pope Francis spent a busy day in Genoa.

Besides being packed with pastoral appointments, the pope’s visit to the northern Italian port city May 27 also was emotional. He told workers in a struggling steel plant that it was from the Genoa port that his father and grandparents immigrated to Argentina.

Pope Francis laughs as he speaks with a man in the Shrine of Our Lady of the Watch during his May 27 pastoral visit in Genoa, Italy. (CNS photo/Alessandro Garofalo, Reuters)

Pope Francis laughs as he speaks with a man in the Shrine of Our Lady of the Watch during his May 27 pastoral visit in Genoa, Italy. (CNS photo/Alessandro Garofalo, Reuters)

Pope Francis’ daylong visit began with an intense morning of answering questions: first, from workers and business owners gathered at the steel plant; then from priests and religious in the city’s cathedral; and, finally, from young people gathered at a Marian shrine overlooking the city and the sea.

The questions ended when he had lunch, featuring traditional Genovese pesto, with 120 refugees, migrants and homeless people. He also visited a pediatric hospital before celebrating Mass near the port with some 80,000 people, according to local officials.

Starting his visit with the workers, business leaders and unemployed, Pope Francis told them that for those who are able to work, having a job increases dignity, bringing a way to support their family and contribute to society. For that reason, he said, government policies should not be so much about ensuring everyone gets a monthly check of some sort, but that everyone who can work can find a decent job.

“It must be clear that the true objective to reach is not an income for all, but a job for all,” he said.

A good entrepreneur, the pope said, is no stranger to hard work, and he knows his employees because he works with them and alongside them.

Unfortunately today, he said, “an illness of the economy is the progressive transformation of entrepreneurs into speculators.”

A business owner who uses his business for speculation “does not love his company (and) does not love his workers, but sees the company and the workers only as means to a profit.” the pope said. “Firing, closing (or) moving the company creates no problems for him,” because such a person is interested only in the money.

Pope Francis also warned the workers and business leaders against the highly touted idea of “meritocracy” in the workplace and the economy. The idea, he said, takes a positive, “merit,” and “perverts it” by mistaking as merits the “gifts” of talent, education and being born to a family that is not poor.

“Through meritocracy, the new capitalism gives a moral cloak to inequality,” because seeing gifts as merit, it distributes advantages or keeps in places disadvantages accordingly, he said. Under such a system, “the poor person is considered undeserving and, therefore, guilty. And if poverty is the fault of the poor, then the rich are exonerated from doing anything.”

The obligation to do something also was on the pope’s mind when he moved to the cathedral for the meeting with bishops, priests and men and women religious.

He told pastors their day should look like the days Jesus had: time in prayer, but mostly time spent on the road and with a crowd. “This means being close to people and to their problems. He didn’t hide.”

Priests, he said, also must take care to nurture a sense of brotherhood with other priests, praying for them, helping them when they are in trouble, sharing experiences and even having debates about the best way to handle situations they all face.

“We run the risk of creating the image that a priest knows everything and has no need for anyone to tell him anything,” the pope said. “Today kids would say, ‘This is a Google priest or a Wikipedia priest!’”

Disagreements are natural and not something to fear, he said. The late Cardinal Giovanni Canestri of Genoa used to say, “The church is like a river and what is important is being in the river.”

“If you are in the center or more to the right or more to the left, but in the river, this is legitimate variety,” the pope said. “So many times we want the river to narrow only to our side and we condemn the others; that’s not fraternity.”

Asked about the dropping vocation rate, Pope Francis said one can’t ignore the impact on vocations of Catholics having smaller families than in the past. But, also, he said, priests and religious themselves must look at the kind of witness they give young people.

“We have to give a witness that shows we are happy and that we will end our lives happy that Jesus chose us,” he said. When a priest or religious has no joy, “a young person will see them and say, ‘I don’t want to live like that.’ It pushes people away.”

Joy and love were still on his mind when he met young people from the Archdiocese of Genoa who had spent a year as missionaries to their peers, to people on the streets and those in difficulty.

To fulfill Jesus’ command to share the Gospel with others requires learning how to see them with “the eyes of the heart,” listening carefully and loving them, he said.

“Love is being able to take a hand that is dirty and the ability to look in the eyes of those who are in distress and say, ‘For me, you are Jesus.’ This is the beginning of every mission, this love with which I must go out and speak.”

If one cannot love the people one meets on mission, he said, “it’s better to stay home and pray the rosary.”

To be Christians who make a difference, he said, young people must have the same qualities as Genoa native Christopher Columbus and the other explorers: the ability “to look beyond your own nose” and the courage to set off, not always accepting what other people say is “normal,” the pope told them.

Is it normal, he asked, that so many refugees and migrants have such difficult lives when they finally reach a safe country? “Is it normal that the Mediterranean is becoming a cemetery” with refugees drowning?

“Is it normal that in the face of someone’s pain, our attitude is to close the doors?” the pope asked. “If it’s not normal, get involved. ”

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As Trump and the pope meet, peace offerings in person and via Twitter


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Though there are few details about what was said when Pope Francis and Donald Trump talked privately May 24, much was made online about the U.S. president’s wide smile and the pope’s more serious stance as the two posed for public photos at the Vatican.

The pope showed his trademark smile when he met the president’s accompanying family members — his wife, daughter and son-in-law — after their meeting, which was described as “cordial” by the Vatican. Read more »

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God is with the defeated and dejected, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — If it seems hard to find God in this world, it is because he chooses to be with the defeated and dejected and in places where most people are loath to go, Pope Francis said.

“God does not like to be loved the way a warlord would like, dragging his people to victory, debasing them in the blood of his enemies,” the pope said May 24 at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis greets a child as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 24. (CNS/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis greets a child as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 24. (CNS/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

The audience began just after Pope Francis had met U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Our God is a dim flame that burns on a cold and windy day, and, for as fragile as his presence seems in this world, he has chosen the place everyone disdains,” Pope Francis told the crowd in the square.

Continuing his series of talks on Christian hope, the pope looked at the Gospel of Luke’s account of the two disciples traveling on the road to Emmaus after Jesus had been crucified and buried.

In the story, the pope said, the disciples, are struggling to understand how such a fate could have befallen the man they had faith in: the son of God.

Their hope was merely human, he said, and it easily shattered after such an unforeseen defeat of God, who appeared “defenseless at the hands of the violent, incapable of offering resistance to evil.”

“How much unhappiness, how many defeats, how many failures there are in the life of every person. In essence, we are all like those two disciples,” he said. Just when life seems to be going well, “we find ourselves struck down, disappointed.”

But just as Jesus was on the road with the disciples, the pope said, he is also walking with everyone on their journey through life.

“Jesus walks with all those who are discouraged, who walk with their head down,” so he can offer them renewed hope, he said.

But he does so discreetly, the pope said. “Our God is not an intrusive God.”

Even though he knows what is bothering the disciples, he asks them a question and listens patiently, letting them tap into the depths of their bitterness and sadness.

Whoever reads the Bible will not find stories of “easy heroism, blazing campaigns of conquest. True hope never comes cheap; it always comes through defeat.”

In fact, he added, the hope felt by those who have never suffered may not even be hope at all.

The disciples initially didn’t recognize God on the road because their hope had been in a victorious, conquering leader, the pope said. They only recognize him when he takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them, exactly like he did with his own life.

The church should be this way, too, Pope Francis said, by letting Jesus “take us, bless us, ‘break’ our lives, because there is no love without sacrifice, and offer it to others, offer it to everyone.”

The church needs to be just like Jesus, not staying in a “fortified fortress,” but out where everything is alive and happening, on the road.

“It is there (the church) meets people, with their hopes and disappointments,” listens patiently to what emerges from their “treasure chest of personal conscience” and offers the life-giving Word and witness to God’s love, he said.

This is how people’s hearts are rekindled with real hope, the pope said.

Just when the way seems blocked by “a wall ahead, Jesus is always next to us to give us hope and strengthen our hearts to go ahead, ‘I am with you. Go on.’”

Christ’s “therapy of hope” is that despite all appearances to the contrary, “we continue to be loved and God will never stop loving us,” the pope said. “He will walk with us always, always, even during the most painful times, even in the most terrible moments, moments of defeat. That is where the Lord is.”

At the end of the audience, the pope greeted pilgrims from Hong Kong on a day dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai.

Pope Benedict XVI established a world day of prayer for the church in China on the feast day.

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Pope Francis and President Trump speak of hopes for peace — updated


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump spent 30 minutes speaking privately in the library of the Apostolic Palace May 24, and as the president left, he told the pope, “I won’t forget what you said.”

Pope Francis greets U.S. President Donald Trump during a private audience at the Vatican May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets U.S. President Donald Trump during a private audience at the Vatican May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The atmosphere at the beginning was formal and a bit stiff. However, the mood lightened when Pope Francis met the first lady, Melania Trump, and asked if she fed her husband “potica,” a traditional cake in Slovenia, her homeland. There were smiles all around.

Pope Francis gave Trump a split medallion held together by an olive tree, which his interpreter told Trump is “a symbol of peace.”

Speaking in Spanish, the pope told Trump, “I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace.”

The president responded, “We can use peace.”

Pope Francis also gave the president a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2017 and told him, “I signed it personally for you.” In addition, he gave Trump copies of his documents on “The Joy of the Gospel,” on the family and “Laudato Si’” on the environment.

Knowing that Pope Francis frequently has quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Trump presented Pope Francis will a large gift box containing five of the slain civil rights leader’s books, including a signed copy of “The Strength to Love.”

“I think you will enjoy them,” Trump told the pope. “I hope you do.”

After meeting the pope, Trump went downstairs to meet Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister. He was accompanied by Rex Tillerson, U.S. secretary of state, and H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser. The meeting lasted 50 minutes.

Tillerson later told reporters that climate change did not come up in the meeting with the pope, but that U.S. officials had “a good exchange on the climate change issue” with Cardinal Parolin.

“The cardinal was expressing their view that they think it’s an important issue,” Tillerson said. “I think they were encouraging continued participation in the Paris accord. But we had a good exchange (on) the difficulty of balancing addressing climate change, responses to climate change, and ensuring that you still have a thriving economy and you can still offer people jobs so they can feed their families and have a prosperous economy.”

Asked how Trump responded to Cardinal Parolin’s encouragement to stick with the Paris climate agreement, Tillerson said: “The president indicated we’re still thinking about that, that he hasn’t made a final decision. He, I think, told both Cardinal Parolin and also told Prime Minister (Paolo) Gentiloni that this is something that he would be taking up for a decision when we return from this trip. It’s an opportunity to hear from people. We’re developing our own recommendation on that. So it’ll be something that will probably be decided after we get home.”

Tillerson also told reporters he did not know what Trump meant when he told the pope, “I won’t forget what you said.”

The Vatican described the president’s meetings with both the pope and with top Vatican diplomats as consisting of “cordial discussions,” with both sides appreciating “the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of religion and of conscience.”

“It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of health care, education and assistance to immigrants,” the Vatican said.

The discussions also included “an exchange of views” on international affairs and on “the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”

Because of the pope’s weekly general audience, Pope Francis and Trump met at 8:30 a.m., an unusually early hour for a formal papal meeting. The early hour meant Pope Francis still could greet the thousands of pilgrims and visitors waiting for him in St. Peter’s Square.

Many of those pilgrims, though, had a more difficult than normal time getting into the square. Security measures were tight, with hundreds of state police and military police patrolling the area and conducting more attentive searches of pilgrims’ bags.

Reaching the St. Damasus Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where the U.S. flag flew for the morning, Trump was welcomed by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household, and a formation of 15 Swiss Guards.

Accompanied by the archbishop up an elevator and down a frescoed hallway, the president passed more Swiss Guards in the Clementine Hall.

Although the president and Pope Francis are known to have serious differences on issues such as immigration, economic policy and climate change, the pope told reporters 11 days before the meeting that he would look first for common ground with the U.S. leader.

“There are always doors that are not closed,” the pope told reporters May 13. “We have to find doors that are at least a little open in order to go in and speak about things we have in common and go forward.”

After leaving the Vatican, the president was driven across Rome for meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Asked by reporters there how his meeting with the pope went, Trump responded, “Great.”

“He is something,” Trump said. “We had a fantastic meeting.”

Meanwhile, the first lady went to the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu children’s hospital, right next door to the Pontifical North American College, which is where U.S. seminarians in Rome live. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, went to the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay movement, for a meeting on combating human trafficking.

The United States and the Vatican have long partnered on anti-trafficking initiatives, a common effort White House officials had said Trump hoped to discuss with the pope. The White House also pointed to a shared commitment to promote religious freedom around the world and to end religious persecution.

The evening before Trump met the pope, the Vatican newspaper carried two articles on Trump policies. One, echoing the U.S. bishops, praised the Trump administration’s decision to extend by six months the Temporary Protected Status program for Haitian citizens in the United States.

The second article was about the budget plan the Trump White House released May 23. L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, noted that it contained cuts in subsidies “for the poorest segments of the population” and “a drastic — 10 percent — increase for military spending.”

What is more, the newspaper said, “the budget also includes financing for the construction of the wall along the border with Mexico. We are talking about more than $1.6 billion.”

The border wall is an issue where Pope Francis and President Trump have a very clear and public difference of opinion.

In February 2016, shortly after celebrating a Mass in Mexico just yards from the border, Pope Francis was asked by reporters about then-candidate Trump’s promise to build a wall the entire length of the border.

“A person who thinks only of building walls, wherever it may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian,” the pope said.

Trump, asked by reporters to comment on that, said Mexico was “using the pope as a pawn,” and he said it was “disgraceful” for a religious leader to question someone’s faith.

On the eve of the pope’s meeting with Trump, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of an influential Italian Jesuit journal, noted that the differences between the two were drawing a lot of attention. However, he wrote, “Francis, the pope of bridges, wants to speak with any head of state who asks him to because he knows that in crises” like the world faces today “there are not only absolute good guys and absolute bad guys.”

“The history of the world is not a Hollywood film,” Father Spadaro wrote on his blog May 23.

The pope’s approach, he said, is “to meet the major players in the field in order to reason together and to propose to everyone the greatest good, exercising the soft power that seems to me to be the specific trait of his international policy.”

Contributing to this story were Junno Arocho Esteves and Carol Glatz at the Vatican.

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Pope names new cardinals from Mali, Spain, Sweden, Laos, Salvador


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis announced he will create five new cardinals June 28; the new cardinals-designate come from Mali, Spain, Sweden, Laos and El Salvador.

Unusually, the group of prelates announced by the pope May 21 includes an auxiliary bishop whose archbishop is not a cardinal; he is Cardinal-designate Gregorio Rosa Chavez, 74, the current auxiliary bishop of San Salvador.

Cardinal-designate Gregorio Rosa Chavez, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, pictured in a 2015 photo, is one of five new cardinals Pope Francis will create at a June 28 consistory. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

Cardinal-designate Gregorio Rosa Chavez, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, pictured in a 2015 photo, is one of five new cardinals Pope Francis will create at a June 28 consistory. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

The other churchmen who will receive red hats are: Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, 73; Archbishop Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona, Spain, 71; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden, 67; and Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos, 73.

After briefly talking about the day’s Gospel reading, leading the crowd in St. Peter’s Square in reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer and greeting various groups present, instead of wishing everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch, the normal procedure at the noon prayer, Pope Francis made his announcement.

The five new cardinals coming from “different parts of the world demonstrates the catholicity of the church spread across the globe,” Pope Francis said. And the practice of assigning to each of them a church in Rome “expresses that the cardinals belong to the Diocese of Rome,” which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch explained, “presides in charity over all the churches.”

Pope Francis said that June 29, the day after the consistory and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the new cardinals would concelebrate a Mass with him, the entire College of Cardinals and new archbishops from around the world.

“We entrust the new cardinals to the protection of Sts. Peter and Paul,” Pope Francis said, praying that with St. Peter they would be authentic servants of communion in the church and that with St. Paul they would be “joyful proclaimers of the Gospel.”

The pope also prayed that “with their witness and their counsel,” the new cardinals would “support me more intensely in my service as bishop of Rome, pastor of the universal church.”

With five new cardinals, the College of Cardinals will have 227 members, 121 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. The number of electors exceeds by one the limit of 120 set by Blessed Paul VI. The next cardinal to turn 80 will be Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, who will celebrate his birthday Feb. 3.

The Vatican released brief biographical notes about the five who will be inducted into the college in June:

  • Cardinal-designate Zerbo was born Dec. 27, 1943, in Segou and was ordained to the priesthood there in 1971. He earned a license in Scripture studies from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and then returned to Mali as a pastor and professor at the seminary in Bamako.

Ordained a bishop in 1988, he served first as auxiliary bishop of Bamako and then was named bishop of Mopti. He has led the Archdiocese of Bamako since 1998.

According to the Vatican, “he played an active role in the Mali peace negotiations” and has worked for solidarity and reconciliation among the nation’s citizens.

  • Cardinal-designate Omella was born in the small town of Cretas April 21, 1946, and did his seminary studies in Zaragoza as well as Louvain, Belgium, and Jerusalem. He was ordained in 1970. In addition to parish work in Spain, he spent a year as a missionary in then-Zaire, now Congo.

Ordained a bishop in 1996, he served as auxiliary bishop of Zaragoza and later as bishop of Barbastro-Monzon, then bishop of Calahorra and La Calzada-Logrorio. Pope Francis named him archbishop of Barcelona in 2015.

He has long been a member of the Spanish bishops’ commission for social questions and served two terms as commission president. He is a member of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.

  • Cardinal-designate Arborelius hosted Pope Francis’ visit to Sweden in October as part of an ecumenical commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Born in Sweden Sept. 24, 1949, he joined the Catholic Church at the age of 20. A few years later, he entered the Discalced Carmelites, took vows in 1977 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1979.

Ordained bishop of Stockholm in 1998, he became the first native Swedish bishop in Sweden since the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, according to the Vatican.

  • Cardinal-designate Mangkhanekhoun was born April 8, 1944, in Laos. The Vatican did not say in what city, but did say he was educated and did seminary studies in Laos and Canada.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1972 by the apostolic vicar of Vientiane, he was instrumental in training catechists and was known for his pastoral visits to remote mountain villages.

In October 2000, he was named apostolic vicar of Pakse and was ordained a bishop six months later. Since February, he also has served as apostolic administrator of Vientiane, which currently is without a bishop.

  • Cardinal-designate Rosa Chavez was born Sept. 3, 1942, in Sociedad, El Salvador. He studied at San Jose de la Montana Seminary in San Salvador, earned a degree in social communications and studied at the Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1970 in San Miguel and served overlapping and sometimes simultaneous terms as the bishop’s secretary, pastor of a parish and director of the diocesan radio station. From 1977 to 1982, he served as rector of San Jose de la Montafia Seminary in San Salvador, a position that brought him into regular contact and close collaboration with Blessed Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980.

He was named auxiliary bishop of San Salvador in 1982. Currently, in addition to his duties as auxiliary bishop, he serves as pastor of the Church of St. Francis in the capital, president of Caritas El Salvador and president of Caritas in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Search for common ground will be key to pope’s May 24 meeting with Trump


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Despite a few pointed comments in the past and fundamental differences on issues such as immigration, economic policy, military spending and climate change, sparks are not expected to fly May 24 when Pope Francis welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump to the Vatican.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis are scheduled to meet at the Vatican May 24. (CNS/Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis are scheduled to meet at the Vatican May 24. (CNS/Reuters)

The two will have a private conversation, with interpreters present, and while anything is possible, protocol dictates that the joint statement issued after the meeting will describe it as “cordial.”

Going into the meeting, Pope Francis made it clear he hoped it would be.

On Pope Francis’ flight back to Rome from Portugal May 13, a reporter asked him, “What are you expecting from a meeting with a head of state who seems to think and act in a way contrary to your own?”

The pope replied, “I never make a judgment about people without hearing them first. It is something I feel I should not do. When we speak to each other, things will come out. I will say what I think; he will say what he thinks. But I have never, ever, wanted to make a judgment without hearing the person.”

Pope Francis said he would look first for areas of agreement and shared principles, his basic recipe for creating “a culture of encounter.”

“There are always doors that are not closed,” the pope said about his meeting with Trump. “We have to find doors that are at least a little open in order to go in and speak about things we have in common and go forward. Step by step.”

The key, he said, is “respect for the other, saying what we think, but with respect, walking together. Someone sees things in a certain way: say so, be honest in what each of us thinks.”

Honesty, even if not completely diplomatic, characterized a couple of pointed remarks Pope Francis and then-presidential candidate Trump made in reference to the other’s positions.

Flying in February 2016 to Rome from Mexico, where he had just paid homage to people who have lost their lives trying to cross into the United States, Pope Francis was asked about candidate Trump’s promise to build a wall the entire length of the border.

“A person who thinks only of building walls, wherever it may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian,” the pope said. He added that he would not tell anyone how to vote and that he would “have to see if he said these things, and thus I will give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Trump responded by saying that the Mexican government had given Pope Francis only “one side of the story” and was “using the pope as a pawn.”

Also, he said, “for a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now.”

Efforts to protect freedom of conscience for employers and health-care workers and the need to defend religious freedom are likely to be a starting point for finding common ground.

A discussion about religious persecution could open the door to Pope Francis restating his conviction of the moral obligation to welcome strangers, especially those fleeing persecution, terrorism, war and abject poverty.

Protecting the unborn is another common concern and would provide an opening for Trump to talk about his Supreme Court nominee and his steps to halt funding of abortions overseas. It also would give Pope Francis an opening to talk about the protection of all life, especially the weakest, with health care, education, job opportunities and a clean environment where people can thrive.

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